YAO! (noesunexito) wrote in geinouron,

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[Discussion] Johnny is not so L.A. after all: Why Japanese artists can't break into the US top 40

Hello fellow members!
Although the community has only been established a few days ago, I want to waste no time in starting discussions.

This topic is actually something I've been mulling over a while ever since cis and I discussed it several weeks ago. That discussion, combined with how many times Johnny's has tried to introduce some of its more popular acts to america (i.e. the Four Leaves and Shounentai) had me thinking: just what is it about Japanese popular music that American consumers dislike? Granted, recently there has been all sorts of budding industries for J-pop such as Tofu Records and Hyde having an overseas tour or whatnot, but why can I see commercials for say, Caesar's Palace and Reggaeton Hits 20 on primetime Japanese TV whereas only the most elite of my music snob friends are cognizant of certain Japanese bands?
Incidentally, do you think that underground Japanese bands attempt to metaphorically "straddle the Pacific" (i.e. Cibo Matto and Pizzicato Five who more or less garner cult followings in both nations)

My initial theory for this is that I feel "authenticity" in American music tends to be stressed more than it is in Japanese music. Whether it is a good thing or not, most popular music world trends originate in America, so when the majority is confronted with say, a very young Shounentai in the 80's wearing "street" wear and dancing to a choreography that heavily borrow from hip hop culture, there's just something amiss about it. Regardless of what that "amiss" quality may be (perhaps an unsettling sense of mimicry that calls to mind the french made satire of Meiji elties ballroom dancing? Or is it still the ever popular sense of "otherness" that is only highlighted even more when the "other" tries to not be the "other"?) Similarly, based on international artists who have garnered popularity in America, it seems like those who manage to break into the mainstream have something of their indigenous culture in the music, be it the Spanglish coupled with Latin trumpeting in Ricky Martin's songs or the Lebanese/Reggaeton influences in Shakira's songs. I think Utada tried to work in "You're easy breezy and I'm Japanesey" but the fact of the matter (besides the fact that that was sub-par pop) is that the song itself had nothing "asian" about it. Thus, it was pop anyone can find anywhere (and done better) with nothing but Utada in a bathing suit in the music video that only adventurous iTunes music video perusers and avid MTV watchers on a specific date saw.

Okay so maybe that did turn into a mini-essay.
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